I wasn’t going to write about this, I really wasn’t. But yesterday at a blogging event the PR used me as an example of a bad blogging relationship. They kept it anonymous and did not mention me by name but the blogging community in London is tiny so I heard about it from three different people. I am going to extend them the same courtesy and not name names, but again the blogging community is small so I think many of you will know who. As I said I was never going to write about this, but since they raised it in a public forum I feel like I need a right of reply, I need to tell my side of the story.
I have worked with PR companies pretty much since I started this little blog of mine. In London PRs run great events where you can meet other bloggers, give you a heads up on new cafes/exhibitions and can be an amazing way to be introduced to brands that really mesh with your blog. They are great to work with and in three years I’ve only had good experiences. After years of fun I’m not going to let this one little upsetting moment sour an otherwise pretty damn cool blogging journey.
So what happened? Last year I was invited to a drinks evening by a travel company, it was good fun and as well as hearing about their social strategy and meeting some other bloggers they also said they wanted to be pitched to. This company wanted to work with authentic, quirky and unique bloggers and were just waiting to hear our good ideas.
I got inspired. I don’t normally even think about pitching because I blog for the love of it not to turn it into a career. But I figured it was something different so why not. I spent a Sunday afternoon putting together a pretty insane ‘pick a path’ pitch on my blog and then sent it to the PR.
I got really good feedback from the pitch and I met with both the PR and the travel company for a coffee, where they said they wanted to work with me and send me on a trip. Very exciting times. I secured other partners for the trip (the travel company was only going to pay for certain aspects) and started the quite painful journey of trying to confirm all the details. I didn’t mind putting the time into this (seriously, over 80 emails back and forth just trying to book everything) because it was an awesome opportunity not only to see and experience a new country but also to work with a couple of really big brands.
So the day that the go button was going to be pushed and everything booked I got a call from the PR saying that the trip was off because I had written something controversial on my blog. Now given that I had recently written a blog post about chocolate butt plugs I thought that might be the controversial aspect. But no, the post they found offensive was this one, the 17 most overused phrases in blog land.
To be specific the aspect they had an issue with was point 6 where I poked fun at bloggers who received something for free then claimed to have an un-biased opinion by writing the phrase ‘all opinions are my own’. In the PR company’s words they could not work with someone who had publically admitted that their opinion was biased by getting something for free.
My point by writing that was that ‘all opinions are my own’ is an overused phrase and that bloggers need to be honest in their reviews (remembering that they are recommending this to people who will have to pay with their hard earned cash).
I personally think the more controversial part of that post is that I couldn’t figure out which whether/weather/wether to use…
Now as I said I was not going to write about this. After all this is a business relationship and to be honest the PR/travel company can make whatever decisions they like. It is entirely their prerogative to stop working with a blogger if they disagree with something they write. I just shrugged and moved on.
But when they raised it as an example in a blogging conference it really really upset me. Firstly because alluding to someone when it is likely they will be in attendance is bad form, and secondly because of a question someone asked. When the PR said they had dropped me because of something I had written a member of the audience asked “was it because they wrote something politically insensitive” and the PR said yes*. It is abhorrent to me that a professional trusted voice is standing in a room of my peers saying that I have written something offensive about anyone’s race, class or gender…the commonly accepted definition of politically insensitive.
What was extremely frustrating about being dropped was that this was a company looking for ‘authentic, quirky & unique’ bloggers. I have written a couple of posts about my opinions on the blogging world and one of the things I think my reader’s value about me is my honesty (and pictures of cats riding unicorns of course!). I’m happy to poke fun at the blogging world and laugh at it while still being part of it and I would have expected a PR company to research my tone of voice before working with me.
I am a hobby blogger. I blog for the love of it, for the community and the adventures along the way. I am never going to censor myself, and I really don’t think I write anything so controversial that it would require self-censorship anyway. I write this as my right of reply to a publicly made statement about me, and I also hope that it helps any other hobby bloggers out there – relationships with PRs can be fun, friendly and beneficial for all, but they can also be a murky water that needs a bit of respect on both sides.
Good luck kids,
*I heard this through other people who were in the room at the time